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Jan 22, 2010 10:45 AM

The Cheese-ing of America

Is there anywhere else in the world where cheese is so often put into or melted on top of their food, like we see now in America?

It started with fast food burgers. Used to be you had to ask for cheese, in which case you paid extra. Now, they automatically charge you for the cheese, and you have to ask them NOT put on the cheese. (they will charge less, by the way, but you may have to point this out).

Within the last decade, foods like risotto and shrimp n' grits have appeared on numerous menus, not limited to just high-end Italian or faux-Southern places. But just try to find either one without cheese, as if it were an essential ingredient. Hardly.

Melting cheese on shrimp, inside sandwiches, in sauces, has come to mean 'fancier' food for some people. And in the effort to make their menus into something you might not do at home, it is an extra high-caloric step that is easy for restaurants to do to impress their customers.

Unfortunately, it is making it hard for me to find dishes that I love made without the cheese.

Not that I don't like cheese, but I don't need it inside or on top of everything... if you know what I mean.

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  1. I've seen steaks that were covered with cheese. It's disgusting.

    1. This is not a problem in my neck of the woods. And if I don't want cheese on my Quarterpounder, I simply tell them so. No big deal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        Yes, I tell them to leave off the cheese AND charge me less. Not a problem. But if a restaurant is relying on cheese to flavor their shrimp n' grits, I'd think they might have to completely change the recipe. Like how people complain that their Thai food is too sweet if they order it mild.

      2. Looks like everybody's gonna be bound up!

        1. I've never had risotto in Italy or Shrimp and Grits in the south that didn't contain cheese. Not huge amounts of cheese, but always some. I've also never seen a steak covered with cheese, except a Philly Cheese steak.

          4 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            steak with blue cheese - yummy.

            but yes too much cheese on too many products where it is not warranted

            1. re: pikawicca

              I've never seen S & G with cheese.


              1. re: Davwud

                Wait - I also have never seen Shrimp and Grits with cheese, and I've eaten a lot of Shrimp and Grits. Where are they putting cheese on S&G!?!??

                1. re: RosemaryHoney

                  Advance Search, Google the phrase "shrimp and grits" and add the word 'cheese' to "all these words."

            2. It's interesting you bring this up. Over the holidays my Dad was telling me how *in Wisconsin (!!)* when he was growing up in his middle class family, there wasn't the emphasis on cheese that there is now. He said it was considered kind of a lower form of protein, the emphasis was really on meat and fish in his area.

              I've also noticed what you're saying, the addition of cheese. I think it's a cheap way to make things more addictively attractive...that salt/fat combo is pretty yummy :)

              Perhaps it's gotten cheaper over the years too, so it's not cost prohibitive for restaurants TO add it.